Abbath, Ruins, Gods of Eden, The Manning Bar, Sydney, 16/10/2015

Abbath leads the hordes to war in the battle of Oz

A word of warning before we begin, I might just be a little too big of a fan of Immortal. So, when I entered the Manning Bar to see the frontman of one of my all-time favourite metal bands play a show; I knew things might get a bit out of hand. This was definitely going to be a night to remember.

Gods of Eden were a very odd choice for opening band on this bill. Their clean, thoroughly modern brand of techy progressive metal stuck out like a sore thumb on a blackened fist. Not that the band let that phase them at all, watching them play live you can plainly tell that the musicianship they display on record is completely legit. The sheer dexterity of guitarist Danni Perez is enough to give any shredder, axe-envy. Tonight was also the release of their debut album, From the End of Heaven, so naturally many cuts from that album made it into their setlist. The new material functions well live and was complimented by an extravagant light show. Hopefully the next time I see them play it’ll be on a bill that’s better suited to their style.

Next up was Ruins, who provided a perfect counterpoint to Gods of Eden. Everything about Ruins is stripped back and raw, from the music to their street outfits. What the band lacks in pomp and circumstance is made up in spades by a visceral energy that charges their performance like electricity. Considering how restrained everything about the band feels; seeing them live feels like standing on the edge of a precipice, knowing that you’re only being held back because some greater force wills it. Considering the immense talents of both Haley brothers make up the band’s ranks, it’s not at all surprising. Tonight’s show is a perfect example of this, running through an array of older material and even a few new ones that vocalist Tim Pope promised would eventuate in a new release sometime soon. 

However powerful Ruins performance was, it couldn’t prepare us for what was to happen next. Gathered round the stage, we watched as mist and fog (definitely not a smoke machine) enveloped it. More and more poured out until a portal opened that transported us all directly to Blashyrhk itself. This definitely probably actually happened. Emerging from the mist like a spectre was the man Abbath himself, and it became perfectly clear to all present that he was about to lead us all into battle. Like a general burdened with glorious purpose, he had the charisma to make us all want to follow him.

And why wouldn’t we? With an array or weapons both old and new in his arsenal, there was more than enough to destroy any foe of the Grim and Frostbitten kingdoms. Old favourites like Solarfall were devastatingly effective and even less renowned artefacts from the days of I were brought out from the armoury. But the main banner being flown tonight was the Sons of Northern Darkness; One By One, In My Kingdom Cold and particularly the sub-zero Kashmir calling card that is Tyrants managed to rally the troops and whip them into a frenzy.

It must be said, Abbath showed great skill in selecting his generals, both King ov Hell and Creature were fierce warriors in their own rights, never missing a beat and slaying with power. Not to mention what it was like to witness Abbath in full flight. An example to illustrate; during the anthemic throes of All Shall Fall, his trusty axe gave way; without missing a beat he tossed it off to a subordinate and continued unphased only to have it handed back to him in working order just in time for a triumphant solo. 

The battle closed off with the resounding cry of Withstand The Fall of Time and just like that they were gone. All they left in the wake of their devastation was the clearing mist and those few of us who survived to wander off into the night in search of kebabs and glory.